6 questions we always ask — Sarah Phoenix, the newest MN Reads reviewer

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Sarah Phoenix says books saved her life. What’s not to love about that? She came screaming in from the north on the last Alberta Clipper a few months ago asking if she could write for MN Reads. “Of course,” I said. “Right on,” she said. Or at least that’s how I like to imagine it happening. Along with Amy Abts and Christa, Sarah makes up what I like to think of as the MN Reads North office. Sarah recently reviewed English by Wang Yang which is only the beginning of what I hope will be many more reviews.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
I am reading Russell Brand’s biography. I usually read books based upon reviews, previous reads by authors, the cover, recommendations by someone I trust, or some unexplainable reason like the author’s hair. That explains why I am reading Booky Wookie.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? Who?
I am so tempted to be ultra-intellectual here and rattle off some of the strong male and female characters I have met over the years. The honest answer is that I am fickle and a serial monogamist and find myself having crushes on whichever protagonist is at hand. (Although Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For have every woman crush I have ever had in one book!)

If your favorite author came to Minnesota, who would it be and what bar would you take him/her to?
Definitely Charles Bukowski and the Kozy Bar in Duluth. Enough said.

What was your first favorite book?
I have often said that books saved my life. I think that I would have to give credit to A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith. It was the book that showed me that all other families weren’t as happy as I assumed them to be. It opened the door to a life long love of reading.

Let’s say Fahrenheit 451 comes to life, which book would you become in order to save it from annihilation?
It would have to be Ulysses by James Joyce. While it is a difficult book to savor, once I learned to read it aloud as poetry, it became an annual obligation and comfort.

What is one book you haven’t read but want to read before you die?
Moby Dick. To be honest, I only want to read it because I have been unable to finish it for over fifty years. I try every three or four years, make it to about page 42 and fall on my knees confessing my inability to understand real literature. Maybe when I get cremated, I’ll have it burned along with me and I will finally be able to let go of it.

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